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jerryking : chatbots   32

Tech groups push ‘chat commerce’ to western shoppers
SEPTEMBER 23 2019 | Financial Times | by Patrick McGee in San Francisco.

From wishing a friend happy birthday to contacting a colleague about a meeting, text messaging is central to much of 21st-century life, with one glaring exception: commerce....the potential for brands to engage with customers and sell goods using pithy, personalised messages is vast. On the Chinese app WeChat, 170m people browse for products — and pay for them — every day on more than 600,000 “mini-programs” within the app. They hail cabs, buy groceries, book doctor’s appointments and even get tourism recommendations through real-time crowdsourcing.

Now, after a series of failed starts, so-called conversational commerce may be set to gain traction in the west, as a host of tech companies attempt to follow WeChat’s lead.

In its new iOS 13 software update, Apple is prompting users on its iPhones who attempt to make a call to companies such as Burberry, Hilton and Verizon to “start a Business Chat instead, so you can interact with a business from a text instead of waiting on hold”.

Apple Business Chat, which was first announced in 2017, lets consumers communicate directly with brands within the Messages app — usually via sophisticated artificial intelligence chatbots — enabling them to ask questions about products and pay for them through Apple Pay, which is integrated into the platform......

‘There is no shortage of demand’

Proponents say the reason texting works in commerce is the simplicity and intimacy of the experience. Consider what happens when a flight is cancelled, causing 200 people to suddenly need to make new plans. Customer service is bombarded; passengers are left waiting on hold. Instead, an airline could let each person text their preferences, then put their phone away as an answer is worked on.

“The idea that [customer service] has to be this synchronous thing where you settle down for a 10-minute conversation on the phone is ridiculous,” said Charles Golvin, researcher at Gartner. “The actual aggregate amount of time you need might be 30 seconds.”.....Making customers feel they are engaging with an individualised service that responds quickly with helpful answers is critical. Instead of hiring a massive staff to respond to each and every query, companies are deploying AI to field customer questions using chatbots, though these can defer to human employees when necessary.

Into the west

So far, attempts to bring conversational commerce to the west have received a lot of hype but little traction. Three years ago, after Uber integrated ride-hailing into Facebook Messenger, product designer Chris Messina hailed 2016 as “the year of conversational commerce” — a prediction that never materialised.

“I don’t think ‘fail’ is too harsh — the uptake of commerce through messaging in the US has been dismal,” Mr Golvin said.

Nevertheless, momentum is beginning to pick up, with sales volume tripling in the past three years, led by in-app messaging within Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Brian Long, chief executive of Attentive, a Sequoia-backed start-up building text platforms for more than 400 brands ranging from Jack in the Box fast food to luxury apparel brand Coach, said it is becoming clear that email marketing does not work, especially among younger people.....Apple declined to say how many brands are participating on Business Chat, but a deal inked earlier this year enabled all 800,000 online merchants on Shopify to engage with customers over text and transact with Apple Pay.

Michael Perry, director of product for conversational offerings at Shopify, said brands using text to engage with customers are building trust that translates into higher spending habits.

“You’re more likely to pay a premium [for] a brand you like,” he said. “And messaging, more than any other medium, powers that.
Apple  brands  chat  chatbots  conversational_commerce  messaging  mobile_applications  Shopify  text_messages  WeChat 
september 2019 by jerryking
What’s Next for Company Chatbots - WSJ
By Sara Castellanos
Sept. 24, 2019 5:30 am ET
Early corporate adopters of chatbots, finding that the technology has saved them money, are working to improve them and exploring other areas where they could be put to use.

Chatbots use artificial-intelligence-based algorithms to understand and answer text or voice questions from customers and sometimes employees. Companies such as TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. , Ernst & Young LLP, Progressive Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. have rolled out chatbots in recent years and say they are seeing tangible benefits.

“It’s a key part of our strategy and we’ll continue to invest in it,” said Vijay Sankaran, chief information officer at brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.

Since it began offering text- and voice-based chatbots to clients in 2017, TD Ameritrade hasn’t needed to hire any new human agents, even though it has added many more clients, Mr. Sankaran said. Chatbots can answer basic questions about trade statuses and resetting passwords, while humans help with more complex problems related to taxes and beneficiaries.

Insurer Progressive offers text-based chatbots on Facebook Messenger and in apps; it plans to roll one out on its website later this year. Chatbots are expected to save the company about $5 million this year%
algorithms  artificial_intelligence  bots  chat  chatbots  complex_problems  conversational_commerce  IBM 
september 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | Warning! Everything Is Going Deep: ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’
Jan. 29, 2019 | The New York Times | By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist.

Recent advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data and artificial intelligence are now taking us “deep” into places and into powers that we’ve never experienced before — and that governments have never had to regulate before. I’m talking about deep learning, deep insights, deep surveillance, deep facial recognition, deep voice recognition, deep automation and deep artificial minds.

Some of these technologies offer unprecedented promise and some unprecedented peril — but they’re all now part of our lives. Everything is going deep........how did we get so deep down where the sharks live?

The short answer: Technology moves up in steps, and each step, each new platform, is usually biased toward a new set of capabilities. Around the year 2000 we took a huge step up that was biased toward connectivity, because of the explosion of fiber-optic cable, wireless and satellites.

Suddenly connectivity became so fast, cheap, easy for you and ubiquitous that it felt like you could touch someone whom you could never touch before and that you could be touched by someone who could never touch you before.

Around 2007, we took another big step up. The iPhone, sensors, digitization, big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing melded together and created a new platform that was biased toward abstracting complexity at a speed, scope and scale we’d never experienced before.....as big data got really big, as broadband got really fast, as algorithms got really smart, as 5G got actually deployed, artificial intelligence got really intelligent. So now, with no touch — but just a voice command or machines acting autonomously — we can go so much deeper in so many areas....DeepMind, the artificial intelligence arm of Google’s parent, developed an A.I. program, AlphaGo, that has now defeated the world’s top human players of the ancient strategy game Go — which is much more complex than chess — by learning from human play......Today “virtual agents” — using conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence — can increasingly understand your intent... just by hearing your voice.....The percentage of calls a chatbot, or virtual agent, is able to handle without turning the caller over to a person is called its “containment rate,” and these rates are steadily soaring. ....But bad guys, who are always early adopters, also see the same potential to go deep in wholly new ways.....On Jan. 20, The London Observer looked at Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, the title of which perfectly describes the deep dark waters we’ve entered: “The Age of Surveillance Capital.”....“Surveillance capitalism,” Zuboff wrote, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioral surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioral futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behavior.”
5G  algorithms  AlphaGo  artificial_intelligence  automation  books  chatbots  complexity  connectivity  dark_side  DeepMind  digitalization  gaming_the_system  human_experience  massive_data_sets  patterns  rogue_actors  surveillance_profiteers  surveillance_state  Tom_Friedman  trustworthiness  virtual_assistants 
january 2019 by jerryking
Alexa: how can I be a better office worker?
March 12, 2018 | FT | Richard Waters in San Francisco

Amazon has announced that its Alexa voice service was now ready for business use, four months after it first disclosed the technology was being adapted to become a language interface for general work tasks.

The attempt to turn Alexa into a mainstream interface for office computing opens a new front in the battle with Microsoft, already its main rival in the cloud computing market.

“It looks as though Amazon is stomping all over Microsoft’s patch even though they did an alliance between Alexa and Cortana,” said Richard Windsor, an independent tech analyst.

The alliance linking the two company’s digital assistants, announced in August last year, was meant to let Alexa users call on tasks handled by Cortana, and vice versa. However, it has yet to result in a working link, and Amazon’s push to win over office workers — Microsoft’s core users — has intensified competition between the two companies.....To prepare Alexa for office use, Amazon had added a management layer and allowed companies to create applications, or “skills”, that can integrate with the voice interface while at the same time keeping them private.
Amazon  Microsoft  Alexa  workplaces  Cortana  voice_assistants  personal_assistants  chatbots  voice_interfaces  Richard_Waters 
march 2018 by jerryking
Three ways your business can leverage artificial intelligence - The Globe and Mail
CHRIS CATLIFF
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017

There are a multitude of ways most businesses can leverage AI but here are three:

1. Customizing the client experience

Recommendation engines (think Netflix) can personalize the customer experience, especially for front-line employees interacting with clients. Using data about our preferences, algorithms suggest and then employees filter with their emotional intelligence to offer highly customized recommendations. Recommendation engines boost revenue and will continue to play a pivotal role. For employees, AI simplifies decisions and eases work flow – a case of automation complementing the human element.

2. Accuracy in detecting fraud

AI-based systems, compared with traditional software systems used for detecting fraud, are more accurate in detecting fraudulent patterns. By using machine learning algorithms, companies can spot emerging anomalies in the data. Financial institutions are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime, where global losses from card fraud are expected to reach $31-billion in three years, and cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Security goals and customer experience goals need to be in sync for fraud prevention technologies to be effective.

3. Increasing client engagement

While "chat bots" are AI-based automated chat systems that can simulate human chat without human intervention, they are being extensively applied to revolutionize customer interactions. By identifying context and emotions in a text chat by the human end-user, chat bots respond with the most appropriate reply. In addition, chat bots, over time, collect data on the behaviour and habits of that individual and can learn their preferred behaviour, adapting even more to their needs and moods. By improving customized communication, customers are more likely to be far more engaged with your company.
artificial_intelligence  bots  chatbots  howto  fraud  fraud_detection  recommendation_engines  cyber_security  cyberattacks 
august 2017 by jerryking
Stop the Bots From Killing Broadway - The New York Times
By LIN-MANUEL MIRANDAJUNE 7, 2016
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Broadway  bots  chatbots  playwrights  theatre 
june 2016 by jerryking
Chatbots Are Your Newest, Dumbest Co-Workers - Bloomberg
Rebecca Greenfield
rzgreenfield
May 5, 2016 — 7:00 AM EDT
chatbots  co-workers  Slack 
may 2016 by jerryking
Bots, the next frontier
Apr 9th 2016 | The Economist

“chatbots”. These are text-based services which let users complete tasks such as checking news, organising meetings, ordering food or booking a flight by sending short messages. Bots are usually powered by artificial intelligence (hence the name, as in “robot”), but may also rely on humans.
bots  instant_messaging  mobile_applications  chatbots  artificial_intelligence  personal_assistants  virtual_assistants 
april 2016 by jerryking
Meet Viv: the AI that wants to read your mind and run your life | Technology | The Guardian
Zoë Corbyn
Sunday 31 January
Viv, a three-year-old AI startup backed by $30m, including funds from Iconiq Capital, which helps manage the fortunes of Mark Zuckerberg and other wealthy tech executives. In a blocky office building in San Jose’s downtown, the company is working on what Kittlaus describes as a “global brain” – a new form of voice-controlled virtual personal assistant. With the odd flashes of personality, Viv will be able to perform thousands of tasks, and it won’t just be stuck in a phone but integrated into everything from fridges to cars. “Tell Viv what you want and it will orchestrate this massive network of services that will take care of it,” he says.....But, Kittlaus says, all these virtual assistants he helped birth are limited in their capabilities. Enter Viv. “What happens when you have a system that is 10,000 times more capable?” he asks. “It will shift the economics of the internet.”....The future, as Etzioni sees it, belongs to the company that can make a personal assistant something like a good hotel concierge: someone you can have a sophisticated dialogue with, get high quality recommendations from and who will then take care of every aspect of booking an evening out for you.
artificial_intelligence  start_ups  Siri  orchestration  virtual_assistants  voice_interfaces  voice_recognition  personal_assistants  bots  chatbots 
april 2016 by jerryking
Waterloo’s Kik launches Bot Shop, opens platform to outside developers
Kik Interactive of Waterloo, Ont., is the latest tech company to expand its effort to become a platform for third-party bot makers in recent weeks.The chat app
Kik  platforms  bots  chatbots  Kitchener-Waterloo 
april 2016 by jerryking
Microsoft banks on bots to restore company’s mobile relevance - The Globe and Mail
SHANE DINGMAN - TECHNOLOGY REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016

Mr. Nadella to describe how bots and machine learning tools are going to create a new “distributed computing fabric” that will vault Microsoft back into relevance on mobile platforms that are built and owned by rivals at Apple and Google. The theory is that if the App Store is owned by the phone makers, you go around the store with bots that live inside other popular mobile services....Everyone from Facebook and Slack to Amazon and Google are already vying to build the best hosts for these new bot services. Canadian messaging company Kik is among those making major investments in this bot-driven future that foresees commands to semi-artificially intelligent interactive chatbots expanding into everything from physical commerce (buying stuff at a shop with your phone, essentially) to controlling Internet of Things devices (texting your coffee machine to make an espresso). Microsoft showed off similar concepts on Wednesday, including a cupcake shopbot and a Domino’s Pizza bot that can deliver food to your location.
bots  Microsoft  platforms  Kik  CEOs  Satya_Nadella  distributed_computing  machine_learning  Azure  cloud_computing  software  intelligent_agents  chatbots 
march 2016 by jerryking
What Comes After Apps - WSJ
By CHRISTOPHER MIMS
Updated Feb. 22, 2016

The first and most intriguing alternative to apps is chat. This is hard to understand for anyone who hasn’t spent time in Asia or at least read about the dominance of WeChat and its competitors, but in China chat apps are used for everything from hailing a car to paying for your Coke at a vending machine.

Kik, a chat app that doesn’t get as much attention as rivals but for U.S. teens is on par with Facebook Messenger and Snapchat in terms of users and importance, will roll out similar functionality within six months, says Chief Executive Ted Livingston.

A growing share of these commercial chats take place with so-called chat bots—interactive computer programs that prompt users to select from among several options, for example. Imagine scanning a chat code on the back of the seat in front of you at a ballpark and having a brief conversation with a chat bot about how many and what kind of beers you want to order.

Chat, says Mr. Livingston, could manage most of the real-world interactions that previously would have required us to visit a mobile Web page, download an app, or—in some cases—give up in frustration with a phone’s constraints. Chat apps won’t solve the walled-garden problem of apps, but they could at least create lightweight interactions with services that happen in seconds and don’t require us to spend time downloading or loading anything.

A TechCrunch article in January indicated that Facebook will soon reveal similar technology within its Messenger app. At least at first, building chat bots that work on any chat app should be easier for developers, because they have similar interfaces. Chat, in other words, could become the new Web browser.
bots  chat  chatbots  Christopher_Mims  conversational_commerce  Facebook  Kik  lightweight_interactions  messaging  mobile_applications  walled_gardens  WeChat 
february 2016 by jerryking
Why Apps for Messaging Are Trending - NYTimes.com
By MIKE ISAAC and MICHAEL J. de la MERCEDJAN. 25, 2015

a glimpse into how some personal messaging apps like Instagram, WeChat and Snapchat — already used by millions of people sharing text or images among friends — will be used in the future.

Some publishers, game makers and e-commerce companies are using the apps as a new distribution and moneymaking platform. Developers have been expanding the uses of the apps, making new functions possible. And investors, seeing huge potential, have driven the apps to ever-higher valuations.
...The initial appeal of the apps is simple. They are faster to use than email, and they generally allow you to send text, links, video and photos to friends more cheaply than traditional texting services offered by wireless carriers like Verizon or AT&T.
chat  chatbots  conversational_commerce  mobile_applications  messaging  Instagram  WeChat  SnapChat  ephemerality 
january 2015 by jerryking
Davos diary: A new angst settles over the world's elites - The Globe and Mail
John Stackhouse - Editor-in-Chief

Davos, Switzerland — The Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Jan. 24 2014,

Another machine revolution is upon us. There is a new wave forming behind the past decade’s surge of mobile technology, with disruptive technologies like driverless cars and automated personal medical assistants that will not only change lifestyles but rattle economies and change pretty much every assumption about work....For all the talk of growth, though, the global economy is also in an employment morass that has the smartest people in the room humbled and anxious. The rebound is not producing jobs and pay increases to the degree that many of them expected. Most governments are tapped out, fiscally, and can only call on the private sector – “the innovators” – to do more....If a 3-D printer can kneecap your construction industry, or an AI-powered sensor put to pasture half your nurses, what hope is there for old-fashioned job creation?

The new digital divide – it used to be about access, now it’s about employment – stands to further isolate the millions of long-term jobless people in Europe and North America, many of whom have left the workforce and won’t be getting calls when jobs come back.... Say’s Law--a theory that says successful products create their own demand.
creating_demand  Davos  John_Stackhouse  Say’s_Law  Eric_Schmidt  Google  McKinsey  creative_destruction  Joseph_Schumpeter  unemployment  machine_learning  disruption  autonomous_vehicles  bots  chatbots  artificial_intelligence  personal_assistants  virtual_assistants  job_creation  digital_disruption  joblessness  fault_lines  global_economy 
january 2014 by jerryking

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